Last week, I posted the rough draft of my story for Writer In Motion. Each week participants edit and polish the stories on our blogs to show how the process looks for us.
This week, I self-edited my entry, and it was an adventure.I changed some words and sentences, fixed a lot of grammer mistakes, and over all tried to work on the story I wanted to tell.
I decided to join Writer In Motion because I wanted to take my writing seriously. I didn’t realize how quickly I would start to understand how my process worked or didn’t work. So far, these are the things I have learned about myself:
You see, I am a pantser. No matter how I plot or outline, the characters take over and tell the story they want. This is great for exploration and first drafts, but it has been my kryptonite when it comes to editing.
I am also pretty wordy. Being restricted to <1000 words is a difficult challenge to try and convey a good arc. I am still figuring out just how much information to keep and where to slash details. I’m relaly looking forward to next weeks Critique Partners for this reason.
This is also my first time writing a nonbinary character. When I tried to describe Alex in my head, there really was no overt masculine or feminine traits that came to mind. Quinn, in contrast, presented very feminine in my mind. I tried to be very mindful of this and Alex’s pronouns of they/them. I am not completely sold on the name and might change it to Ode. But for this pass through, I chose to keep the name Alex.
With all of this, I am still very much in love with what story is starting to develop from the prompt and can’t wait to see how it develops.
It was supposed to be an hour-long hike—keyword supposed to. Somehow, and Quinn had no idea how she had managed to not only stray off the well-marked path but had also managed to climb a completely non-beginner friendly hill. Or at least that was what her quads were screaming at her. Lifting her phone, she checked for a signal. No luck. It had the same lack of bars as she had as when she had tried two charlie horses ago. At least it wasn’t summer, and at least she saw the light through the trees.
Quinn came out of the thick blanket of trees. It opened into a field of grass that someone clearly kept neat. Judging by the mountains in the background and lack of more hill to climb, she had made it to the summit—the wrong summit but the top none the less. The top had a small field of flowers tucked away from the world below, which surrounded a small house of some kind. There were no windows that Quinn could see, but there was a door. Curiosity getting the better of her, she crossed through the flowers to get a closer look. The walls were grey, and the door appeared wooden with knots, almost forming long lines about a few inches long. The door swung open underneath her hand, sending her forward off-balance.
The floor was worn wood, which given the owner lived in the middle of a forest-covered mountain, made sense. Surprised by both the door opening and the floor’s softness that broke her fall, Quinn lifted her head to brush away a mop of hair and spotted shoes. Shoes that were attached to legs.
“Do you always wander around strange houses on top of hills, or am I special?” The owner of those shoes sounded amused to find a grown woman on their floor, admiring the polish job.
“Only on days I’m supposed to be hiking with friends, it seems,” Quinn said, pushing herself up. The stranger offered a hand which she gratefully took.
“I’d ask if you had a name, but I’m not convinced you aren’t a pretty but sweaty fairy” The stranger said, dusting off Quinn with a hand mindful not to brush any delicate areas.
“I’m not a fairy!” She scoffed. “I’m hardly human before coffee. And it’s Quinn.”
“Well, Quinn, what are you doing on my mountain?” They still did not give a name. This didn’t bother Quinn since she was trespassing.
“I was hiking to Rosewood Peak, but I think I took the wrong path.” They looked at her with amusement, which Quinn did not find funny.
“The wrong path is an understatement. If you had been any more wrong, you would have ended up in a different state. Come sit down while I get a jacket.” They motioned to a well made wooden table. The inside was much bigger than she would have guessed from what she was seen outside.
“Can I ask you a question?” Quinn said, sitting at the log bench watching the homeowner as they moved to a wood carved coat rack.
“Is it my name?” The smile was back. Quinn was positive; she would not have been in such a good mood had someone fallen in her doorway.
“Yes, but also, why does this house have no windows?” It was true. The inside of the grey walls was lit by candles. In fact, Quinn didn’t see any electricity at all inside.
“I like living off the grid. If I want to see outside, all I have to do is open the door really, so I don’t see the point in windows anymore. And it’s Alex.” It was a start, at least. “Place keeps plenty warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I find that the things you really need are always right in front of you.” Alex pulled on a lightweight sweater. From how rugged everything else was, Quinn would not have been shocked to find out they had knitted it themself.
Together, Quinn and Alex left the grey shelter with no windows and started walking back down past the pretty flowers and out of the fairy ring protected from the woods and technology. Quinn realized just how out of the way she had really taken herself. Alex was the perfect guide. They knew the woods surrounding their hilly home and could point out things Quinn had never stopped to realize in her panic to find her friends. The trees leaned toward the top. Significant grey rock patterns created natural stepping stones. The company of someone was nicer than trying to stop and take pictures for Instagram every five steps. The last had been the whole reason she had strayed off the easy hike path. It had been a hard and painful, at least painful to her thighs, lesson to learn.
“Well, here we go. The path should be marked from here.” Alex said once they had gotten back down to nearly the summit. Quinn had to admit, it was probably one of the best experiences out in nature she had ever had.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t tripped into your floor,” Quinn said, trying to laugh at her embarrassing first impression.
“I don’t know. Probably kept going until the next hill hoping someone built a house on that one?” Alex flashed their grin at her. Quinn felt utterly comfortable. Despite the long, thankfully, not hot day, she was happy she met Alex.
“Nah,” She smiled. “Then I wouldn’t have met you. So do I send a smoke signal or try to get lost to see you again?”
“Might not have a phone, but I promise if you meet me back here on Saturday, I’ll be waiting. Possibly with food.” Alex said, brushing their hand back through their hair.
“That sounds like a plan, Alex.”